Development Cooperation Handbook/Interviews/JM Balmorugan

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J.M. Balamorugan is a Indian Government Official taking a 4-5 year service with Civil Society. and is the CEO of Isha Foundation

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J.M. Balamorugan
Indian Government Officer
CEO of Isha Foundation
Coimbatore, December 2010


Related to the Development story ⇒ Green Hands


How can local policy actors contribute to the achievement of the MDGs and other global policy objectives?[edit]

Collaborations between Civil Society, Government and Private Sector

J.M. Balamorugan : Synergy between public authorities and the civil sector

Instead of using the word collaboration I would use the word inclusive, where we are trying to include everyone. It is an inclusive development of an inclusive society. Whether it is private factory, or a private sector corporation, or a government undertaking, or a government organization, or a local body, all these institutions are serving the core purpose of achieving human well-being. And when you look at human well-being, it is essential that they collaborate and create synergies between each other. The Government is very good in policy formulation, in planning, in providing finance, but after all, whatever policy you formulate sitting in your head quarters, ultimately it has unfold, blossom in the field, on the ground. Therefore it is useful for the government to collaborate with civil societies who are working at grassroots, with the people, so that what the government cannot do it can be done by the civil society. Civil society by their nature is flexible, small and they can work with the people at more close quarters. Ultimately just by framing policies things will not happen. Corporate, private sectors, also cannot see themselves as different and excluded from this process, because they also have to serve the society, ultimately. That is why you see now more and more corporate giving social service much beyond their business operations. So unless all these three agencies collaborate with each other the human well-being will not be comprehensibly addressed.
There are differences in the roles and the spaces that the government, civil society and the private sector occupy in society. There is also a tendency of each sector to enter into the field of the other and make the work redundant. How do you think we can create a greater collaboration among them? Instead of using the word collaboration I would use the word inclusive, where we are trying to include everyone. It is an inclusive development of an inclusive society. Whether it is private factory, or a private sector corporation, or a government undertaking, or a government organization, or a local body, all these institutions are serving the core purpose of achieving human well-being. And when you look at human well-being, it is essential that they collaborate and create synergies between each other. The Government is very good in policy formulation, in planning, in providing finance, but after all, whatever policy you formulate sitting in your head quarters, ultimately it has unfold, blossom in the field, on the ground. Therefore it is useful for the government to collaborate with civil societies who are working at grassroots, with the people, so that what the government cannot do it can be done by the civil society. Civil society by their nature is flexible, small and they can work with the people at more close quarters. Ultimately just by framing policies things will not happen. Corporate, private sectors, also cannot see themselves as different and excluded from this process, because they also have to serve the society, ultimately. That is why you see now more and more corporate giving social service much beyond their business operations. So unless all these three agencies collaborate with each other the human well-being will not be comprehensibly addressed.

You have worked in the government sector and then you chose to work for the civil society for a period of time. Why did you take such a decision? Because I thought that it time to give back to society and get a reality check of what we are doing as government offices. After some time in the government one realizes that you are out of touch with the reality and it is necessary to go back to the root and learn a lot of things and unlearn a lot of things. When you are in touch with people you are actually able to see their conditions and realities and your policy formulation gets much more realistic. This is one of the reason I have chose to work in the civil society and also to bring in my experience as a government official in the implementations of the programs of the civil society. An other important reason to work for civil society is to fill-in this gap of what we cannot achieve in the government can be achieved in the civil society. And when a government official is coming in the civil society, that gap is filled.

Sharing knowledge and resources[edit]

J.M. Balamorugan : Why I have choosen to stay and work at the Isha Foundation

I think it is important for people to change sector so that they can learn from the other sector and bring back their experience. Why do you think it is important for people to do that and how can we make systems more flexible to allow that? This flexibility is very important in whatever we do. Because after a period of time we tend to be inflexible, rigid in our way of working and we tend to assume we know things and we have lots touch with reality. Whatever sector one is working in they need to know the role of the other agencies, they need to spend time with the other agencies. They need to get involved with the other agencies; and what better way than to actually spend time working with them. When you work with them you are actually able to learn from the prospective of the other agencies and you are able to bring back the experience in your own working. Do you think we should ask institutions to allow people to work in a different ambience and then come back to them? Yes, it should be built as part of the system itself in the organization, that a person gets to spend a certain period of time in a sector with which he is connected. Like if I am a computer company which is giving solution to municipal bodies, this person should spend some time with the municipal bodies and understand how the whole thing works; so that whatever he designs as system is more closer to reality. Organizations should have a flexibility to provide this kind of facility for their staff.

Can we as individuals contribute to the achievement of the Global Development Agenda?[edit]

We have seen that there is a link between people with a spiritual search and a desire of theirs to have a more just and equal economic and social society? Why do you think it is so? Spirituality is the ultimate sense of inclusiveness. When you are able to understand and to feel in every cell of your body that what you are and what everything else we know as life, is one and the same, that is ultimate inclusiveness. When you are able to feel that you are in the path of spirituality. And for a person wants to be in that path, it is but natural that he would want to spend maximum time with life, people, in all forms.

Personal growth can really come when we enable and think about mutual growth, could you please elaborate this thought. We are always thriving for personal growth; in the sense that, how as a person I can attain to the maximum of my potential. And in that pursuit you might be doing different things, but irrespective of what you are doing, your ultimate aim is to maximize your potential and grow in that direction. Ultimately, they say, existentially how much you are involved with life is all that matters. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are or what you are doing. You may be the prime-minister, a clerk in the government office or a farmer, ultimately, how involved in the life process is what is going to determine the quality of life. And your growth, in that sense, is also determined in that. So showing your involvement in whatever you do is what we call as spirituality. This in a sense also lays down the path for your development. Its not about what you do or what you don’t do but how you do is the most important thing.

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